Last year, Google announced it would phase out third-party cookies in Chrome, following similar initiatives by Mozilla and Safari. Now, the latest in a string of privacy-forward updates comes from Apple as part of iOS 14, which includes a new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) mandate.
With this new policy, announced on Data Privacy Day, Apple developers must ask users if they want to opt into cross-app tracking, rather than making the decision on their behalf. This is a significant change. Cross-app tracking, the app companion to browser cookies, is what provides advertisers with the third-party data used to fuel ad targeting and personalization on mobile apps. It’s what means, if you browse for a product on your phone, it’ll follow you around every corner of the internet until you finally give in and buy it.
Though it helps mobile advertisers connect with you in a more reliable and tailored way, cross-app tracking often comes at the expense of your privacy—and that’s a challenge for brands. Given how privacy-conscious consumers have now become, it’s reasonable to expect a significant number of users to actively opt out of cross-app tracking when the ATT changes are rolled out.
That means there’s going to be a lot less third-party data flying about. For the digital advertising industry, which has relied on third-party data for years, this has the potential to be a huge problem.